A comedy trope where, quite simply, a character is given an opportunity to Make a Wish or three, and completely wastes them on something stupid and/or frivolous. Sandwiches seem to be a particular favorite.
A lot of times, this will be used to circumvent Jackass Genies or Literal Genies, since with a smaller reward from a wish, possible negative consequences from the reward will also generally be smaller. If this works and the person who wished for something small ends up happier than the one who wished for ten bajillion dollars and a mansion full of Playboy models, then expect An Aesop on greed and being satisfied with simpler pleasures in life.
Even wasted, these wishes can be subject to Be Careful What You Wish For.
Also see Mundane Wish, when the wish is intentionally mundane because the wisher doesn't need or want anything grandiose.
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In an Australian advertisement for Arnott's "Tim-Tams" chocolate biscuits, a guy and girl stumble upon a magic lamp, releasing a genie who grants them three wishes. The girl wishes for a packet of Tim-Tams that never runs out. The genie informs them they have two wishes left, to which the guy responds, "Then we'll have two more of those."
In a later version, the guy immediately wishes for a hot blonde movie star, who promptly appears. Annoyed, his girlfriend suggests they take a hike. Both disappear — Oops! The handsome black male genie suggestively tells the girl she's got one wish left, and is rather disappointed when she wishes for the never-ending Tim-Tams.
In an M&M's commercial, Red and Yellow are transported to a small deserted island where a guy is getting his three wishes granted by a genie where he already used the first two on a sports car and a group of cheerleaders. Red lampshades this at the end wondering why the guy didn't just wish for a boat.
Anime & Manga
In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, girls are able to have one wish granted in exchange for being made into Magical Girls. Mami suggests that they could even wish for something silly like cake. Played straight in the first timeline, in which Madoka became a Magical Girl in order to save the life of a cat - to be specific, the cat in the OP.
According to supplemental materials, Charlotte actually did wish for one last cake to share with her dying mother. Upon realizing that she could have used this wish to heal her mother, she rocketed past the Despair Event Horizon and immediately became a Witch.
Seen in Hayate the Combat Butler, where Nagi's mother is telling a young Nagi about wishing on a shooting star.... and she proceeds to wish on one for manju buns. Nagi chastises her.
In Ah! My Goddess, when Tamiya unintentionally summons the demon Mara, who offers him a wish, he thinks she's an ordinary human who sneaked in and tells her to "get the heck out". She tells him that's an uninspired choice for a wish and then vanishes.
A chapter of Nagasarete Airantou nets youngest character Yuki three wishes. She uses the first to make herself bigger, the second to go back to normal after the genie in question makes her taller without actually changing her figure, then uses the third wish to age herself up properly. She learns after the last that wishes put on people only last until sundown, so the second wish to restore her back to normal was wasted. Everyone else who got wishes at the time either wasted them on treats or went the Mundane Wish route.
Subverted in Fushigi Yuugi. When told she can make three wishes, and they can be for anything she wants Not really., she thinks about typical teenage-girl desires (popularity with boys, being thinner). Later, she starts to think about things like making her and Yui friends again, being able to pass her high school entrance exams, getting home safely, and even for Nuriko to be happy. She ends up actually using her wishes to 1) resurrect Yui and 2) to restore peace and order to the universe. She never actually uses her third wish.
In Dragon Ball, the Red Ribbon Army is collecting the eponymous artifacts so they can use their wish-granting powers to Take Over the World. However, it's revealed at the end of that arc that their diminutive leader actually just wants to use the balls to wish himself taller. The Dragon gets so pissed off about this that he guns down his boss and takes over the organization.
When various villains from DC were offered anything for their souls by the demon Neron in the Underworld Unleashed crossover, The Joker wished for a box of cigars. It's up for debate as to whether this was wasted or not, as there is no doubt that Joker was going to hell anyway, and he makes it clear that they're good cigars.
In an installment of Art Sansom's "The Born Loser," said character Brutus Thornapple releases a genie from a magic lamp, who grants him one wish. Brutus off-handedly says "I wish Gladys [his wife] could see this!" The genie immediately turns into Gladys who says, "You called me?"
In the original Bedazzled (1967), Stanley is using the seven wishes he's traded his soul to the Devil for to win the girl of his dreams. After a few wishes haven't panned out, he wonders how she's doing, absently sighs "I wish I was a fly on the wall" and before he can take it back...
George doesn't quite play fair with him. At one point he asks Stanley if he'd like a raspberry parfait. It's only at the end that Stanley learns that was one of the wishes.
In the remake Elliot wishes for a Big Mac and a Coke as "a test". The Devil simply takes him to a McDonalds and makes him pay for the meal because "there's no such thing as a free lunch". This eventually becomes a minor plot point, similar to the parfait example above. Strangely, this happens before Elliot signs the contract. It can be assumed that the contract also counts wishes granted before it's signed.
In Zathura, there is a card called Shooting Star, which grants a wish. When Walter got one of these cards and had to come up with a wish fast, he panicked and wished for a signed football... signed by Brett Farve.
Which, admittedly, was a better use of his wish than the alternative: it turns out that the astronaut is Walter's future self, from a timeline where he had used the Shooting Star wish to erase his brother from existence.
In The Neverending Story II, Bastian uses wishes on all sorts of stupid things like the ability to juggle. Even more wasteful, at one point he wishes for a staircase, then finds it only goes up so far, so he wishes for the rest of the staircase one step at a time.
In the Looney Tunes movie Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island, after the treasure map that controls the wishing well is destroyed by Daffy, Speedy Gonzalas, Yosemite Sam and the Tasmanian Devil, the well gives them three wishes before bidding them farewell. Speedy wishes for a burrito and Daffy gets angry, wishing the burrito was on his nose. Sam and Taz beat Daffy and Speedy to the punch with the last wish, wishing for a boat to get them off the island and forcing the latter two to chase after them.
An old tale tells of a farmer who gets three wishes. Excitedly, he wishes for a string of sausages and runs home to tell the wife. She gets mad that he wasted one wish and accidentally wishes for the sausages to be attached to the end of his nose. They have to use the last wish to remove them from his nose.
Another, much older version has God in mortal disguise ask for food and lodging at a rich man's house and being turned away. He goes next door to a poor man's house and is welcomed with open arms. The next morning He reveals His divinity and says the couple can have three wishes. They make two simple wishes (good health and daily bread, and a guaranteed spot in Heaven) and God asks them if they wouldn't like a nice new house. Soon after, the rich man sees the new mansion and putting two and two together, rides after God and begs Him for three wishes as well. Suprisingly, God agrees, but warns him to be careful. On the way home, the rich man's horse starts to act up. "Stupid nag, I wish you'd break your neck!" Strike one. He then starts to lug the expensive saddle home, thinks of his wife who's probably having tea and cake in the shade, and bitterly wishes that the saddle was stuck to her ass. Strike two. When he gets home, his wife is rather insistent that he use the last wish to get the saddle off her ass. Strike three.
Charles Perrault wrote a version of that fairy tale in verse, translated by Christopher Betts as "Three Silly Wishes". In his version, the husband foolishly wishes for a sausage, and when his wife berates him for wasting a wish, he angrily wishes it onto her nose. He leaves the decision about the third wish up to her, and she decides she would rather stay poor and beautiful than be a queen with a sausage-nose for the rest of her life.
In the American folktale Wicked John and the Devil the titular Wicked John (whose one redeeming trait is his hospitality) gets three wishes when he puts up an angel for the night, and frivolously wastes them on spiteful things that stop people from messing around on his property. However, the trope is subverted when all three of these things are used to fend off the Devil when he comes to claim his soul...and in fact makes the Devil so scared of him he won't even let him in Hell after he dies! Of course, heaven doesn't want him either...
There's a joke where a drunk finds a genie, wishes for a bottle of beer that never empties, then wishes for two more.
There is a variety of the joke where the drunk asks the Golden Fish for a half-litre of vodka, then for another one, and a third one too... at which point he then eats the Fish. As the ghost of the Fish shows up to ask why the Hell would he do it, he explains, you need a snack to go with the vodka, don't you?
There is a well-known joke regarding this trope that goes something like this-
Three friends who have been lost in the desert for days come across a genie's lamp and rub it at the same time. After being freed, the genie promises to grant them all one wish. The first man wishes he lived on a tropical island surrounded by beautiful women. The second man wished he was a successful business man in the big city. The third man says, "I'm lonely, I wish my two friends were here."
A variation goes like that: The third guy is the boss of the other two, and wishes "that those guys are back at work after lunch break!" The Aesop: Let the boss talk first.
A Russian variation goes that the guys are stranded on an island when they catch the Golden Fish (the Russian equivalent of the genie). The first two merely wish to be home; the third wishes for "a bottle of vodka and for those two guys to come back here," playing on the Russian consensus that three is the ideal number for communal drinking (in Soviet times, a bottle cost 2 rubles and 87 kopeks, so if each person contributed a ruble you could get the bottle and 13 kopeks' worth of snacks).
A somewhat lewd joke about a bear and a rabbit who both gets three wishes:
Bear: I wish all the other bears in this wood were female.
Rabbit: I wish for a motorcycle.
Bear: I wish all the bears in the nearby woods were female too!
Rabbit: I wish for a motorcycle helmet.
Bear: In fact, I wish all bears in the world except me were female!
Rabbit: I wish this bear was gay. [Drives away]
In A Song of Ice and Fire the assassin Jaqen H'ghar offers Arya three very specific "wishes" in order to pay the life debt he owes her for saving him and his two associates. Specifically, she can say three names, and he will kill those people. As is traditional she ends up wasting the first two on a petty tormentor and a soldier who, while vile, was no worse than several of the others. Only after doing so does she realize that she could have said anyone and she should have killed the enemy commanders. Her third wish is evidence of a true Guile Hero at work - She says Jaqen's name, and promises to take it back only if he helps her to release her friends from prison, which will technically involve killing several people. After she does so, he considers his debt paid, but is obviously impressed at her cunning.
The third wish is also wasted, as the people they free turn out to have been captured in a Trojan Prisoner gambit and would have escaped anyway.
In one of his poetry books, Shel Silverstein takes the classic Aesop about greed and turns it Up to Eleven. The story goes that a young boy finds an elf in his backyard that grants him one wish. The boy, in his greed, wishes for two wishes, which he gets, surprisingly enough. So with each wish, he wishes for two more wishes, giving him four wishes. And with each of those wishes, he wishes for two more, giving him eight. This goes on for some time, until the boy dies, presumably from old age. All that's left of him is a humongous pile of unused wishes. The narrator of the story then invites the reader to take a few, and warns the reader not to "waste your wishes on wishing."
The quote above comes from a Whose Line Is It Anyway? game of "Scenes From A Hat" where the players had to come up with "Bad Choices to Make When Your Genie Grants You Three Wishes"
In an episode of My Hero, George brought in Santa Claus to give his friends one present of their choice. Most of them made serious suggestions despite not believing it was really Santa, but Piers thought the whole thing was ridiculous and sarcastically asked for a jigsaw. Santa then gave everyone exactly what they had asked for, and refused to let Piers change his choice.
In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch Sabrina's diminutive Stalker with a Crush Roland gets a new job as a leprechaun. Sabrina grabs him which makes Roland contractually bound to gives her three "Wish Coupons" (instead of the traditional pot of gold, which was apparently phased out). Sabrina immediately uses the first one to make Roland go away, Salem convinces her to use the second to allow him to become human again for a week and she ends up carelessly saying "I wish Roland was here to help" while holding the last coupon when things go badly.
In "Je Souhaite" of The X-Files, Anson Stokes found a Literal Genie and his first wish was that his boss would shut the hell up. Poor Mr Gilmore really got smooth, unbroken skin where his lips had been before.
In an episode of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Pee-Wee uses his Jambi wish of the day to bring Reba the Mail Lady to his playhouse to mail a letter for him. The other characters point out he can just go to the mailbox on the street corner and mail the letter himself, but he ignores them, and makes the wish. As it turns out, it's Reba's day off. Later in the episode, Pterri runs away after Randy convinces him that Pee-Wee doesn't like him. Pee-Wee aks Jambi to grant his wish to bring Pterri back, but Jambi tells Pee-Wee he already made his wish for the day, and that wishing isn't the true way to bring your friends back.
In a two-part episode of Power Rangers Turbo, the Monster of the Week is a genie called Wicked Wisher who creates three wishing coins for Divatox; unfortunately, her idiotic henchman Elgar wastes one of them by wishing for a new hairstyle. In a way, all of them are wasted. She uses one wish to turn the Magna Centurion evil, and he becomes a potent threat for a while, but the third coin is lost in Angel Grove; the Rangers ultimately find it first (well, technically, Bulk and Skull do, and give it to them) and they use it to reverse the second wish.
In a Sesame Street sketch from the 1970s, Cookie Monster meets a genie and is granted three wishes. He asks the genie for progressively larger trucks, hoping for one large enough to fill with a million cookies. By the time he gets a full-size truck, however, he's used his three wishes and can't ask for any cookies.
A version of the sausage story under Folklore was done as a skit in Between the Lions (Season 1, Episode 21, aptly named "Sausage Nose"), except that their third wish kept going ("...and a new cottage, and a new stove, and a new..."). It worked, somehow.
In Sam & Max Hit the Road, the duo comes upon a wishing well. Sam throws in a coin, asking, "I wish I knew what Max was thinking." We hear nothing but a pinging noise as the caption reads "... ..... ....... ..... ... .!" to which Sam remarks, "Well, that was a waste of money."
The seer in Kid Radd never bothers to explain that each person seeking him may only ask one question. It only comes up after Bogey has asked, "What are you?" and Sheena asked "Is it true that anyone who meets the seer is going to die?" Bogey is more than a bit upset that he wasted his question.
A sort of example in one episode of Dick Figures where Red and Blue find a genie, and manage to get said genie to owe them several hundred wishes. However, Red gets into an argument with the genie over whether the number of wishes they accumulated should be considered a 'fuckton' or a 'shitload'. Red finally wishes for the genie to shut up, which causes it to lose the ability to talk, and thus the ability to grant wishes. It especially falls under this due to the fact that Red doesn't care in the slightest, simply remarking to a pissed-off Blue that he got what he wanted.
A Rooster Teeth sketch has one of the guys catching a magical wishing fish. He wishes for 2 milkshakes, that the milkshake he knocked over gets restored, and that eating a magical talking, wish-granting fish wasn't against the rules.
In the Smosh video Three Wishes, Ian and Anthony are stranded on an island when they find a stoner genie from a bong. While Anthony thinks about what he wants to wish for, Ian uses all three on a flamingo lawn ornament, some microwave popcorn, and an inflatable seahorse.
Question: If a little creep comes and says he is called Kyubey, and wants to make a contract... What would you wish? Reisen: I would wish for him to LEAVE. Kyubey: Okay. Contract sealed. Reisen: WAIT! THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!
In one of his Counter Monkey stories, The Spoony Experiment elaborates on the time the party were cursed to turn into animals unless they found a genie (naturally, at the bottom of a dungeon. When they get there, the genie (played by Spoony, the DM) only offers the whole party one wish between them. The party are savvy enough to realise he'd be a Literal Genie and try to screw them over, so they have a group discussion on how best to phrase the wish to include the whole party. They weren't savvy enough to realise that pretentious newbie Vegan Steve immediately wished for a Deck of Many Things. Which Spoony, without thinking, granted. Hilarity ensues. Moral of the story: Never give your characters wishes.
Also a variation on the episode where Homer and Apu visit the Kwik-E-Mart home office to attempt to get Apu's job back. The pair are given three questions to ask and Homer accidentally uses up all three to ask if the guy they're visiting is really the head of the Kwik-E-Mart.
Guru: You may ask of me three questions.
Apu: Oh, that's good because I only have one—
Homer: Are you really the head of the Kwik-E-Mart?
The Stinger for one episode of Sheep in the Big City had General Specific doing pretty much the same thing to a "question genie", repeatedly asking him to make sure it didn't matter what question he asked.
Lampshaded in The Fairly OddParents, when Norm the Genie gets rightfully irritated that the first wish is always for a giant sandwich. When he ends up with Chester, he just gives him the giant sandwich so he doesn't waste his first wish.
In an episode, Crocker teams up with Norm the genie but instead of simply wishing Timmy to Mars (as Norm suggests) or simply wishing to have a fairy in his possession he wastes his wishes on parts for ridiculous traps that backfire on him. Norm allows Crocker to wish for more wishes — which he does by wishing for them three at a time — and continues to waste them.
While many of Timmy's wishes seem wasteful, they don't qualify because he has unlimited wishes. In fact, it's actually bad for the fairies if he doesn't constantly wish for things
An accidental example occurs in Aladdin and the King of Thieves. The thieves try to steal a staff. Iago flies over to the staff and wonders aloud why they'd be looking for it. An oracle appears, revealing that the holder of the staff will get the answer to any one question they ask. Iago prepares to ask his question... but the oracle reveals that Iago already got his one question when he asked why the thieves wanted the staff.
In Aladdin: The Series, a young peasant girl gets a genie and asks for a sandwich. Fortunately, since the genie in question is benevolent and the girl did not use the word "wish", the genie encourages her to instead make the much-less-wasteful wish to never go hungry again.
In a sketch from Robot Chicken, Oprah promises to fulfill everyone's dream and asks a member of her audience, "What can Oprah do for you?" The man is surprised, and asks for a pastrami sandwich. She tells him to look under his chair, and lo and behold, he finds a sandwich. She then tells all the other audience members to check under their chairs, and they all pull out boxes containing keys to brand new cars. The man who got a sandwich is disappointed.
In an episode of Paw Paws, Dark Paw does this. For his first wish, he asks the genie to eliminate the totem. For his second wish, he asks that the princess and Brave Paw be eliminated. Finally, he says offhandedly, "I wish I could see the look on their faces!" and the good bears return.
Family Guy: Peter goes to the Mafia's Don, since it's the Don's daughter's wedding (and the Don can never refuse a request at his daughter's wedding), intending to ask to have the price taken off his wife's head. Peter then gets distracted, and instead asks for a piece of tiramisu.
One My Little Pony And Friends episode starts with the discovery of "The Magic Coins", each of which grants one wish. Most of these are quickly used up so that they don't have any easy way to counter it when one of the baby ponies wishes away the rain after a sudden shower spoils their picnic.
In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Shanghaied", when Patrick learns that the Flying Dutchman will grant them three wishes, he exclaims "I wish we had known that earlier!" In one of the Alternate Endings, Patrick used the third and final wish on a pack of gum.
The MTV animated short Genie Junkie was built on this trope. A total couch potato had freed a genie from her bottle, making her his slave and bound to grant his every wish... and his every wish turned out to be for things like a fresh glass of cherry coke, or that she change the channel on the television, or that she do his laundry, or get him a new bag of Cheetos. The only "extravagant" thing he ever asked her for (if you could call it extravagant) was a plate of the shrimp combo advertised in an in-universe seafood restaurant commercial, because man that looked good and he was hungry...
In South Park, God appeared at the turn of the millennium in "Are You There, God? It's Me, Jesus" and offered to answer exactly one question before returning to heaven. While the adults were brainstorming the best possible question, Stan butted in and demanded to know why he hadn't had his period yet. The adults were not amused.
The Tick was at one point allowed to ask one question of his deepest subconscious, which could answer any mystery in life. He asked "How's it going?". He got a thumbs up. His spiritual guide is not amused.
In the Adventure Time episode "The Limit", Finn and Jake escort some Hot Dog Knights through a dangerous maze, with Jake over-extending his stretching powers along the way. When they get to the wish-granting entity who lives at the middle of the maze, the two knights who managed to make it to the center wish for a cardboard box and to "blow up. I mean, get big. [blows up]", while a thoroughly exhausted and worn-out Jake wishes he wasn't so hungry and gets a sandwich.
In "Jake the Dog", Prismo refuses to grant Jake's initial wish for a sandwich and just makes him one since he's a Nice Guy and he doesn't want Jake to waste his wish.
In "Wake Up", Finn and Jake return to Prismo to wish to see Finn's dad. Since they already used up their wishes, they brought Shelby to make the wish for them. Shelby wishes for a pony for his girlfriend instead.
A season 2 episode of The Cleveland Show has Junior offhandedly mention that he had wished for "Salty Meat Sweat", despite the fact that the geniewarned him against it. He regrets it.
The Danger Mouse episode "Where There's A Well, There's A Way" zig-zags this a bit. DM and Penfold are searching for the mystic inkwell of Merlin the Magician, where DM plans to make a wish by flipping a coin into it that "the forces of evil are overwhelmed" while Penfold wants to wish that he is the world's greatest secret agent. The villain Copperconk Cassidy intervenes, and during a scuffle, Penfold loses his glasses and Cassidy accidentally gets knocked into the well. Hearing the coin drop, Penfold picks it up, mistaking it for a loose glasses lens and says "I wish this stupid well had never existed!" The inkwell vanishes in a puff of smoke.
The Bugs Bunny cartoon "A Lad In His Lamp" has Bugs wishing for a carrot from Smokey the Genie. He asks for two to make sure he's real.
A Woody Woodpecker cartoon has Woody granted three wishes from a tiny leprechaun woodpecker. The first gets Woody in all kinds of trouble with the law, so he uses the second wish himself back home. The third wish he uses to tell the leprechaun to "GO TO BLAZES!!!" The leprechaun descends to Hell, where ol' Beelzebub was expecting him.
In Wander over Yonder, Lord Hater has the chance to wish for anything he wants, which he wants to wish to be the ruler of the entire galaxy. However, Wander, who's sightseeing and obliviousnote most likely to Hater's plan, keeps interrupting him to take photos. Hater, fed up with Wander yells "I'd wish you'd leave me alone for five seconds!" The Celestial Being nonchalantly grants it and ignores/is unable to grant Hater's request to "do over."
In one episode of Sofia the First, Amber stumbles upon a wishing well that offers her three wishes. Considering that she's a princess, she probably didn't need to wish for a new tiara, especially since she already has a whole closet full of them, but that's what she did.
Not exactly a wish, but in The 7D episode "Knick Knack Paddy Whack," the Glooms steal The Pearl of Wisdom, which will answer one question once its shell is opened. After a scuffle with the 7D, Grim finally gets the shell open and wonders where Hildy is, so she can ask her question. The pearl takes this as his question, answers it, and promptly closes again.
In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, Hampton's family and Plucky hold their breath and make a wish while going through a tunnel, where if one holds his breath the whole time, the wish will come true. Plucky is the only one who is unable to hold his breath the whole time, but he thinks that the others didn't get their wish either, until Hampton reveals that they made the same wish they always do, "to be a happy and loving family forever and ever". Considering they already wished once for something to be forever, they didn't really need to wish for it again.
In the episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy with Thromnambular, the Wishing Skull, Nergal Junior actually benefits because he does this, seeing as Thromnambular is a Jerkass Genie who tends to twist and pervert wishes so they end up bad for the wisher. Junior can't decide what to wish for, and eventually says that he wishes he knew what to wish for; Thromnambular grants the wish and leaves (as in, letting him know what he wanted to wish for, but not actually giving him a chance to wish for it).